Gregor Cuzak

on marketing, business and philosophy

World champion of olive oil


Vanja Dujc, a Slovenian, won his title in Shanghai during last year’s World Expo.

Vanja is an ex IT guy, an IBM mainframe guy, whose market disappeared due to rise of PCs, that are now ironically disappearing due to mainframes redressed as cloud computing.

And thank heavens Vanja moved to olive oil a decade ago.

I met Vanja today and even before tasting his oils my mind is swirling in delight. For Vanja’s storytelling is so warm, lucid and sincere, that I already feel insatiably interested in stories that I intend to hear from him soon, again.

Firstly, Vanja will host an afternoon retreat at NIL’s coming customer event. Second, Vanja agreed to come to our NIL Jam Session event in december. Plus, we will get to taste his virtuous product in between.

And now two stories.

Once a limousine with german plates comes to his home at the Slovenian coast and 4 people step out of the car. They ask for him. “It’s me”, Vanja says, and then asks whether they are on their way for a holiday on the Adriatic. “No”, they said. “Well, are you on your way back from the coast?” Vanja asks. “No”, they reply again. “Are you here on business?” he questions in doubt. “No, we came today from Hamburg just to buy your oil. And after we buy it, we’ll just drive back.”

Vanja once started investigating the authenticity of the locally famous Istrian white olive, the Belica. After much investigation he found out that Belica is not a local endemite, as all local producers proudly claimed. This infuriated the community of olive growers. Why is this new olive grower, a newling, challenging us in our traditional ways, they might have been saying. Well, Vanja continued his investigation and finally did uncover a real local endemic sort of olive tree, a sort resembling the Piran Žižola described by some historic authors, which I don’t recount here. Go meet Vanja, he’ll tell you the details.

And yes, one more thing. Vanja warned me about stories, as they more often than not are no stories at all. The only stories that count are the stories of real events, the hi-stories. Or in Slovenian, stories are ‘zgodbe’, and the verb from this is ‘zgodile’ which translates to ‘they happened’. According to Vanja the only stories worth retelling are the ones that really happened.

Oh, yes. Which reminds me of marketing. The best marketing is the one that is not visible.

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